NYE 2014

New Years eve is a major marking of the passage of time. There is a lot of pressure to be social, have a party, go to a party, get wasted, kiss someone at midnight, make insane promises to yourself in the guise of “Resolutions”, and go a little nuts.

That’s a lot of pressure.

It’s a heavy drinking holiday, it’s the night of “auld lang syne” with all the sad ruminations on one’s past that come with that, and it’s the transition into a new year “365 days of a new book”.

That’s a lot of pressure.

Please be kind to yourself tonight.
Go out if you feel like it.
If you feel like staying in, then do so.

Don’t pressure yourself, it ain’t worth it.
Take care of you.

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Christmas Jew

We usually had about a month off school for Winter break when I was a kid. I imagine my mom got pretty tired of me after a while and was probably relieved when she could ship me off to stay with my pop for a week or two.

We never had a tree at my dad’s place, and usually I spent those holidays with him and my paternal grandparents in Brooklyn. If there was overlap in dates, we celebrated Hanukkah. I got yummy melty chocolately gold coins, scarfed grandma’s homemade matzoh ball soup and stuffed myself on latkes.

One of my favorite things to do during those holiday visits was to get in the car with pop to go look at the decorated houses. We would drive up one street and down the next, commenting and oohing and ahhing at the lovely, sparkly Christmasy homes.

It never occurred to me what a Jew from Brooklyn felt about these ecstatic displays. I am Jewish by birth, but not so much by practice, and at my mom’s we had a big Christmas tree and went caroling each year. My dad, however, was raised in a fairly traditional (non-Orthodox) Jewish household.

During those tours he and I did through the neighborhoods, I wonder if he felt like an outsider, peering in to someone else’s philosophy, stealing visions of another’s ritual?

My memory is that he loved the Christmas lights as much as I did. The lit-up houses were wondrous and sentimental, festive and enchanting. We were two kids with big eyes thrilled at the beautiful spectacle.

in contact

I now have two cell phones. One is for work, one is my personal phone, and I have them with me all the time. My friends make fun of me for having two phones and for having them with me 24/7. I keep them on, albeit low, at night. Since I’m a light sleeper, it works for me. People have asked me why I don’t turn them off at night. Why would I want to risk having my sleep interrupted?

My dad was in the hospital one day eight years ago. He was unresponsive, but still alive. I missed the call in the early evening from my grandma. When she finally got in contact with me a couple of hours later, it was past the time of the last flight out of O’Hare that would have brought me to him. To say goodbye.

Instead, I arrived in the morning, steps away after the moment of his death.

There is no such thing as control. It’s an illusion. I try to not make decisions based on fear, or let fear control my actions. As we all know, fear is the mind-killer….But we all have irrational things that we allow ourselves to believe, fears that we let rule. This is my concession. I feel like I have a modicum of control, even if it is just over receiving a call.

Now, I keep my phones close. It gives me a small comfort to know that people whom I love can find me if they need me.